Portland 2016

The weekend before Thanksgiving, C and I traipsed around Portland. And I’m now just finally getting to writing a bit of a recap. Spoiler – it was fantastic! And I can’t believe I was considering not going. C was there for work and I decided to tag along for the heck of it and to take a much needed mental break from the everyday.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon and after dropping suitcases off at our hotel decided to hit up the Deschutes Brewery first. I did a sampling since I had absolutely no idea what to get. I would say I liked 3/4 of them or would consider drinking a full pint.

For dinner we went to Higgins – which I highly recommend to any foodie. You can also grab a place in the bar too if you’d like but we got super lucky with the final open reservation for the evening. We had an onion tart (which I noted was made the same way I make scalloped potatoes – just onions and cream), then for an entree I had the halibut with potatoes, brussels, and Jerusalem artichokes over a cauliflower puree with bacon – super tasty and delicious. We were too full for dessert, but I bet that would have been good too.

We ended our evening with drinks at The Green Room which is below the Multomah Whiskey Library which C would have loved to go to but their was an hour wait and we were exhausted.

Waking up the next morning I found we had a pretty nice rive towards the river.

For brunch we headed out to the next place on my list – Broder Nord. It’s a Scandinavian cafe, how could I not go? And although I was completely starved by the time we arrived (1 hour behind and I’m cranky I didn’t get breakfast an hour earlier), I believe I did a good job with control. 😉

A must eat on my list was the Abelskivers – so perfect with the lemon curd and lingonberry.

For my main meal I ordered the oven baked omelet with red onions and sausage. And THEN for my side, I had to order the lefse with butter and honey on the side. (The main lefse for the day was filled with smoked salmon – sacrilege in my book.) I’ve been raised on lefse for 30 years and you definitely do not put fish in it. I’ve also never seen it fried or reheated to crispy with butter or oil on a griddle, but it wasn’t bad. Perhaps a tad oily, but overall enjoyable even if it doesn’t hold to original or homemade standards. I’m a lefse snob, get over it.


Saturday evening we had dinner at the Raven and Rose. We had warm winter drinks in the Rookery Bar above before dinner – which is a definite recommendation a if you’re looking for someplace cozy. They even had Netflix on – we watched Burn After Reading for our pre-dinner entertainment.

Since we were already content with our pre dinner snacking, we jumped right to entrees. I chose the chicken breast – it was good but not about to blow me away or anything I likely couldn’t replicate at home.

Sunday brunch we headed out to The Screen Door. If you go, I recommend getting in line early. We arrived right at 9am and ended up waiting about 45 minutes. But it was definitely worth it.

Right next door to The Screen Door (excellent business strategy I might add) we got coffee and tea and Kopi Coffee. I got a Chai latte with almond milk and loved the traditional spice (not the watered down Americanized version at all).

Once we finally got in to brunch, we shared two apple turnovers.

And I ordered the cheesy grits with vegetables! I also asked for a poached egg on top for some extra protein. If I could live in this bowl I think I maybe would.

Sunday afternoon I went to a yoga class at Yoga on Yamhill. Even though I teach yoga, I find it refreshing and renewing whenever I can be a student. It was a good class led by the owner of the studio and was pretty packed – I usually take that as a good sign. The only aspect I would have changed is to use more pose names rather than just descriptions of what we were supposed to be doing. As a new person I didn’t always catch on to how I was supposed to be positioned when it only learning method used was auditory and very little visual.

After yoga I made my way over to VooDoo Donut to pick up a last treat for the weekend. I got four – because I definitely intended to share (almost all of it). The maple was for C, we shared a cream filled and a banana peanut butter chocolate fritter, and then the French Cruller was all for me.

The French Cruller is probably my favorite donut ever since I was a kid. I love the eggy holey inside and although it’s a treat, you don’t feel overly stuffed after eating.

On our final evening together in Portland, we hit up Andina which is a really great Peruvian restaurant. Although I still think the original is far superb, this brought back some great memories with the Pisco and empanadas.

By this time it was pouring rain, so we ran over to Rogue Alehouse until it let up. I tried a flight of their ciders and sours. Pretty good, with only one being way too sweet for my taste – I like tart cider and sours rather than sweet.

Portland was a food dream. And although food is really all I mentioned, we did go to the Art Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and explored the Saturday Market. The thing I like to do best in any city is just try to get lost of a little while in its streets – and Portland is definitely someplace you can feel the culture and history in the midst of new buildings or revamped construction popping up all over the place.

I’d visit again.

What are your favorite things to do in a new city? What are some ways that you get lost in a city or explore to its fullest potential? 


Spinach Mushroom Bacon Strata

It’s been a month… or almost two since I posted a recipe – how did that happen?! Well, I’ll ramble about exactly how that happened in a moment, but for those who only care about the recipe and food – we’ll talk about that first. 🙂

Obviously breakfast is my favorite meal of the day – maybe this blog should have been all about breakfast, but I’m pretty sure someone already claimed that… And finding new brunch type recipes that can easily traverse into lunch or dinner is a win in my book. Strata can do just that.

For this strata I was inspired by some day old baguette. I bought the “wheat” kind but from the photos it honestly doesn’t appear that way – I swear I did. For whatever reason I always picture mushrooms in strata and so an idea was born. Mushroom, spinach (obviously), bacon (for C), and then for the cheese I chose some Monterey Jack. One thing to remember especially when making a strata and not a straight up egg bake is that for the egg mixture to soak into the bread you’ll need at least 8 hours or up to a day in the refrigerator.

Spinach Mushroom Bacon Strata

Serves 8 generously – have a side salad too

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 c tightly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 c cubed bread (I used a French baguette 2″x18″ loaf, but feel free to adjust based on how bready you like your strata)
  • 2 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 c milk
  • 4 strips of peppery bacon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft. Transfer to large bowl with bread cubes. 
  3. In the hot pan, add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to release moisture.
  4. Add spinach and toss until wilted. Remove from heat.
  5. Add mushroom/spinach mixture to bread, tossing to combine. 
  6. Wipe out pan and return to heat. Cook bacon in pan until crispy and transfer to plate with paper towels to cool. When cool enough to handle, chop or crumble bacon into small pieces and add to bread mixture. 
  7. Lastly add in shredded cheese and fold to combine. 
  8. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, then add milk and seasonings. 
  9. Pour egg mixture over  bread mixture in the large bowl and mix to combine. Transfer mixture to greased 9″x13″ glass baking dish.
  10. Refrigerate mixture for 8 hours, or up to overnight, covered.
  11. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  12. Bake, uncovered, for 55-65 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Middle should be set and not jiggle or knife inserted into center comes out clean. 

Just the perfect brunch or weekend lunch. 🙂

Ok, so why the long break? Being entirely honest – I have felt completely uninspired and blah this whole past month. Most of it stems from my day job – I’ve been overrun and it’s hard to see the end in sight. For weeks at a time I’ve come home completely exhausted without an ambition to make food (thank goodness for C!), let alone formulate something to eat for dinner. No joke if C wasn’t here I’d probably be living on cereal and completely protein deficient. While I love what I do (or at least the idea of it), I don’t particularly care for it when it interrupts my personal life, wiggling its way into my evenings, weekends, and even morning workout time. When I don’t get time for my passions I tend to get a little cranky and blunt.

I’ve had some inspiration the past few days, so I’m going to see where it leads. I’m out of the office most of the month of October and hopefully not being in a dreaded cube will help (seriously soul sucking). Fall is my favorite season (perhaps a bit basic but whatever) and having grown up with pumpkins I do have a few new recipes to share celebrating autumn and harvest time.

How have you made it though those uninspired months? What do you do to ensure work-life balance?

 


Banana Bread French Toast Style Oatmeal

Even though I’m just back from vacation, I feel like I’m getting the vacation blues after being back to work for a week. Or maybe it’s just an entire week or two with a case of the Mondays? Some days I really connect with Sadness from Inside Out (Disney Pixar) “I’ll just lie here until tomorrow”- I think she might be my favorite character from that movie. Occasional melancholy is perfectly healthy. …In any case, maybe some yummy food will turn things around (noting that food can neither fix nor solve a problem), which is exactly why I went for some healthier comfort food.

And since breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, we’re back to breakfast! I’ve been on a major hot oatmeal kick lately and this time around adding some extra protein with an egg.  Yes, you heard that right, the best way to get the creamiest oatmeal is whipping in and egg. While yogurt is still my all time favorite and go to breakfast, these oats have been creeping their way up and are relatively “quick” to throw together before heading out the door for work.

Banana Bread French Toast Style Oatmeal

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c old fashion oats
  • 1 c water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 medium banana mashed
  • 1/4 c milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Toppings of choice: toasted almonds, cocoa nibs, dried cherries or cranberries, or whatever is your favorite.
  • Honey

Directions

  1. In a small pot on the stove, heat the water until boiling. Add the oats and stir until combined and oats are mostly cooked.
  2. Next, stir in your mashed banana to whip into oats followed by a touch of milk (2 T to 1/4 c).
  3. Once oats are back up to heat and bubbling, add in the egg and whip fiercely with a whisk or wooden spoon to fully incorporate the egg without getting large chunks of cooked egg (which is not what we’re going for here).
  4. Lastly stir in the vanilla and remove from heat.
  5. Spoon the creamy oats into a bowl, drizzle with desired amount of honey, and top with favorite toppings. I had toasted almonds, cocoa nibs, and cranberries on hand, but really lots of different toppings will work just fine.

If you have time on a work morning I would savor the morning with this treat, but it is also the most delicious breakfast after a walk with the dog on a Saturday morning. Oh, and I suppose you could multiply the recipe as well if you want to share. 😉

Enjoy!

What is your favorite breakfast grain?

How do you cope with a case of the Mondays?